Monday, 24 December 2007
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Furan Duran are back with a great new album and a new world tour! Last week I came across a special edition of the new Duran Duran album, CD + DVD, and I sat down last night to watch the 'Making of' the album DVD. Its about 40 minutes long and well worth the few extra euro for the special eidition. It comes with a press access sticker (feels like its the 80's again!) which I'll try and use when I next see them in concert (yeah right you will!).
Here are the Duranies on Jonathon Ross performing their new single plus girls on film. I don't know why they decided to lanuch the album with this as single. For me, its one of the weaker songs on a very good album.
And here they are on the American Music Awards peforming the same single and then 'Hungry Like the Wolf'.
Here's a couple of photos of Simon and Nick taken by a friend of mine when we went to see them play in Razzamatazz in Barcelona in 2005.
The quality isn't great but its interesting to see how their new show is shaping up. Here they are live in New York in November 2007.
And finally, a tribute to Kraftwerk?
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
I've been busy being a music consumer over the last few months but I haven't found the time or inspiration to write about it. Maybe its because I get the feeling that I'm writing only for myself (who better person to write for?). Anyway, today I bought a couple of CDs for my birthday which is next week. I've agreed with my girlfriend that there will be no birthday presents this year (we're up the walls with other things) so I decided to treat myself to a few CDs. I bought ...
I was gonna buy the Roisin Murphy album from HMV online on vinyl (its a double coloured vinyl edition!!) but its 25 quid sterling, no way! How can you jstify 25 quid for an album. That's nearly 35 euros (plus post and packing of 2 quid extra), when you can buy the CD for 9,99 euros.
The 'La China' album De Amor y Muerte is a real find. I know nothing about her yet, just that she's on Subterfuge Records and she's the singer in the group Cycle (see myspace here) . The CD is really excellent, electro 80's influenced spanish pop. You'll find more info here (in Spanish)
Saturday, 11 August 2007
I first saw the Cranberries in 1992 (or was it 1991?), playing live in the college bar in UCC, where I was a student at the time. In fact, my brother had an EP on cassette which they had released in Ireland. I think there was a dolphin on the front of it. They were called the Cranberry Saw Us at the time. Anyway, there was 6 people there to see them play live at the college bar in UCC that night. But it was brilliant. Its the only time I've ever seen an almost unknown band play live and know that they were going to be huge.
Friday, 10 August 2007
Bruce Willis plays his part very well in the movie. His answer is that every now and them you have to eat some shit. So every time you tuck into a super mac muggy meal, remember that there's a teeny tiny piece of shit in there somewhere. Its really small, you probably won't see it or smell it, but it's there!
Thursday, 9 August 2007
The cast is great. I recognised one of Rob's old girl friends (Lili Taylor) from the series Six Feet Under (highly recommended tv series, by the way) (John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black, Todd Louiso, Tim Robbins, Lisa Bonet, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joan Cusack, Joelle Carter, and Lili Taylor.) For anyone who hasn't read the book, you should check out Nick Hornby and his books, many of which have been made into quite fine movies, except for the US version of Fever Pitch which is total crap, check out the original UK version about football (something I know nothing, zero, nada, about!). In fact, football (soccer) bores me so much the first time I read the book I gave up after 2 chapters. I came back to it a couple of years later having read other Hornby novels and I really enjoyed it.
Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. And I really enjoyed it! Well, yes, it's not a great movie, the plot is simple, Hugh Grant plays himself (but he does it so well!) and Drew Barrymore (terrible in US version of Fever Pitch) is very very sweet, verging on sickly but she held back just enough to make this a very entertaining movie about 80s pop. The opening video of Hugh singing 'Pop Goes My Heart' is extremely well done. 80s music lovers will enjoy and laugh.
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
I saw Altered Images from 1981 on one of those video music channels last night and it got me thinking about birthday songs. The following are probably the more typical ones most of us would think of. Anyone want to suggest another?
The Beatles - Birthday from the White ALbum
Junior Boys - Birthday from Last Exit album.
Stevie Wonder - Happy Birthday - from Hotter Than July
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
The Boomtown Rats, Middlesex Polytechnic (now University) in Hendon:
Last week I saw a BBC 'Rock Goes to College' concert (on BBC4) with the Boomtown Rats at Middlesex Polytechnic College at Hendon. It reminded me of how great the Rats were in the late 70's. 'Tonic for the Troops' was one of the first records I listened to when my older brother bought it. He was a huge Rats fan.
Madonna is a real interesting case. Did you see her performance at Live Earth? Its amazing how she can be so good and so crap in the one short set. Her new song 'Hey You' was terrible, embarrassing dross. It really was that bad. And her gypsy version of 'La Isla Bonita' was painful to listen to, and even worse to see.
But then she played 'Ray of Light' which was absolutely brilliant. It was probably the best performance in terms of 'putting on a show' in the whole day. It was highly entertaining, a showbiz expert at her very best. I loved it.
In case you missed it I've pasted it above. If you want to see Madonna at her very worst then check out the other two songs on YouTube.
My impressions from all of this:
Video Tapes - I have to buy a DVD recorder because I'm stockpiling VHS video tapes having done so much taping. I'll probably never get through it before someone tapes 'Nip Tuck' over it 'by accident'.
Glastonbury = cold, wet, mud. I am officially not one of their target audience.
The Concert for Diana was a good idea but it lacked 'tightness'. The section with Rick Gervais was painful, in fact, really painful. Why didn't he just get off the stage and save face? Surely he has some new material to fill 10 minutes instead of doing a bad impression of his own dance routine. When I give presentations I always bring along a little extra material, just in case I finish early, you never know. Amateur!
Duran Duran should stick to their own stuff. The still get a lot of stick for the 90's cover album 'Thanks'. So why try a cover in the middle of one of their songs at the Diana Concert? When they play their own stuff they're brilliant. When they play other people's stuff they're crap.
Live Earth - Did you see the Pussy Cat Dolls being interviewed on the BBC? I've posted it here for your viewing pleasure/interest. These people look like a bunch of prostitutes. It's true. I don't mean to be harsh but it's true. Look at them! And listen to the total drivel coming out of their mouths. And come on, the 'Mayor' of California... Check out the video and laugh or cry.....
Why every time their is a big concert in the UK does the BBC insist on repeatedly claiming that 'The whole world is watching' when this is so obviously untrue? They tell us that this is a global event and that its been transmitted around the world. They said so during the Diana Concert and during the Live Earth concert, when where I live, none of the TV stations showed any of either of these two concerts. I had to watch it all on the BBC by satellite. None of my friend or work colleagues aw any of these concerts and very few of them even knew it was happening. The whole world is not watching. There is no doubt that these concerts reach a large internacional audience, but the majority of these are in the english speaking anglo-saxon world.
And then the claims about the new Wembley Stadium being the 'greatest stadium on the planet'. Come on! It's an amazing new stadium, but how exactly is it the 'greatest'. What is the 'greatest'' The biggest? No, its not. The newest? Probably, for a few weeks. The most technologically modern? Who knows? There's no need for this type of generalisations.
T in the Park - CSS are a great band, on record and live! Viva CSS. Lily Allen's cover of Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' is very poor. Lily is great on record but not so great at these huge shows.
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
It happens quite often. You hear a song and you know you've heard it, or parts of it, before. But where? actually this one is easy.
Have a listen to these two songs.
Kelly Osbourne - One Word (the best she ever did!)
Visage - Fade to Grey
Tuesday, 3 July 2007
Here's U2 with their first appearance on TV on Youngline in 1978. I used to watch this program religiously every week. I was so annoyed when they took it off the air. I still have the 1978 Youngline Annual. I must put up a photo of it.
Monday, 2 July 2007
Neon Bible - Arcade Fire (Is this just a loud racket of too many people playing at once or it is a classic album?)
Ban bang rock n' roll - Art Brut (I've been looking for this for ages. Finally found it over the weekend on blue vinyl).
Ringo - Ringo Starr (I found this for 3 euro over the weekend, original copy in perfect condition. Bargain).
Panic Prevention - Jaime T. (The best act of Glastonbury 2007).
Our Earthly Pleasures - Maxïmo Park (Great new album).
Favorite Worst Nightmare - Artic Monkeys
Version - Mark Ronson
The Sun and The Moon - The Bravery (Pic Disc - Great except the whistling track, rubbish).
Burning the Ground - Duran Duran (found this in a second hand record shop, 12' mix of songs from the Decade album).
Here's a few tracks from the album (recorded directly from vinyl)
Is it a wonder - Armoury Show
The unguarded moment - the Church
Panic - Fiction Factory
Beat Boy - Visage
Is it a wonder - Armoury Show
Thursday, 28 June 2007
This is a wonderful forgotten b-side from the early eighties prince of Rock n' Roll Shakin' Stevens (if you've read before you'll know I've been a fan since the early days). The single Shirley reached number 6 in the UK in 1982. The b-side, 'I'm For You' is a great song.
Its funny when you think about how many songs Shakin Stevens sang about girls. Of the top of my head I remember Oh Julie, Shirely, Vanessa, Marie Marie, Jenny Jenny, Justine, Ruby Baby, Hey Mae, Mona Lisa, Josephine, Sapphire, Jezebel... Anyway, check out I'm For You below. I'll take a better photo of the cover of the single and put it up next week.
I first heard of Brian in 1990 when he released the wonderful single 'Captured'. I rushed out to buy his first album 'War of Words', unusual in that every song is a classic, no filler in sight. He then spent a few years as part of the group Sweet Mouth (with Mark E. Nevin, formerly of Fairground Attraction) and released a great album Goodbye to Songtown in 1991, before finally going on to release his second album in 1996 entitled 'A Better Man'.
He spent 6 years as part of Van Morrison's Blues and Soul World Tour also appearing on Van's albums Days Like This, The Healing Game, Back on Top and others. He does a great version of Van's 'Crazy Love' on the soundtrack to the movie 'When a Man Loves a Woman'.
Latter he became the lead singer in the celebrated Riverdance on Broadway show at the Gershwin Theatre, New York, beginning in March 2000, and in 2006 he represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Brian has also written two best selling novels and presented two TV series on the BBC about traditional Irish songs (from which he released 2 albums) and two novels The Arrival of Fergal Flynn, a bestseller in Ireland, and Roman Song, to widespread positive acclaim.
Singer songwriter, novelist, tv and radio presenter, collaborator with Van Morrison, Sinead O'Connor, etc, Brian is a real all-rounder! But why is he not a hugely successful international star.
Its seems strange that he would agree to enter the Eurovision. Its not exactly the most image enhancing strategy but then again his explanation for why he did it seem more than admirable. He says that he couldn't think of a better honour them being chosen to represent his country on an international stage. Fair enough.
Brian was the first to release 'You raise me up' with Secret Garden (which was later recorded by more than 470 artists around the world). This song was later very successful for a number of artists on both sides of the Atlantic (Westlife and Josh Groban), but I think you'll agree once you hear it, that Brian's version was the first and best of this song.
There are so many classic Brian Kennedy songs that its difficult to choose. Have a listen to these and go and go out and pass the word.
Below you'll find a couple of videos of Brian, one with him singing the first public performance of 'You raise me up' and one of him singing live in concert with Van Morrison.
You raise me up
Brian Kennedy singing with Van Morrison in concert.
Brian Kennedy singing 'You raise me up'.
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Fiction Factory are often mentioned on 1980's blogs, mostly referring to their one big hit 'Feels Like Heaven' (lyrics here) which reached number 6 in the UK in 1984, but one of my favorite songs by them is a b-side from later single Ghost of Love (which only got to number 64 on the UK Top 100!).
The Other Side of Grey (direct from vinyl)
Fiction factory released 2 albums, Throw the Warped Wheel Out (1984) which is well worth searching for in second hand record shops, especially if you can find it with the free 12 single, and Another Story (1985), all pictured below. Click on the image to see the album track details on the back covers.
If you think that Captain Sensible's cover of Happy Talk was one of the weirdest but enchanting novelty records of the early 80`s (1982) then you'll love the b-side of the same record, 'I can't stand it'. the Captain had a short run of fun hits (You'll find some of them on on his myspace site) like Happy Talk, Wot?, Glad It's All Over and Croydon with his bunch of Dollymixture.
I can't stand it (from vinyl record)
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Thinking about the same show, Does anyone have the video of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats on the Late Late Show (RTE) when Geldof told Byrne that they were going to be huge and have a number one record etc, to the utter contempt of Gay Byrne? I haven't found it on YouTube
Maybe the BBC doesn't show the parts of the festival that people really go there for year in and year out (maybe lots of sex in tents or drinking beer all weekend???). Maybe there's a lot more besides the huge mainstage concerts.
And the toilets looked appalling. I can hardly piss in a pub when surrounded by other pissing men (stage fright), imagine having a crap in one of those plastic sheds! Then again, the toilet is probably the only place you can sit down during the whole event.
Glastonbury watched from the comfort of your own arm chair isn't too bad, some of the sets are decent. I particularly liked Editors, Jamie T and the second Amy Winehouse set. Glastonbury real-life just makes me feel cold, wet, aching, tired and miserable.
I'm booking a front row seat in my sitting room for next year's concert (and there are no ticket touts in my house!). Then again, if it wasn't for all these crazy people, there would be no BBC coverage cause there wouldn't be a festival. Thanks Glastonbury goers!
Here's a record I came across in a dark and dusty back room of a music shop in Tarragona, Spain. This is a spanish release of a classic eighties album on survival records. The shop where I found it has now closed down (like so many more). They had stacks of vinyl albums left over from the 80's and early 90's, most of them in quite good condition, and most of them by groups I have never even heard of. 'PLAY' is a typical example. They say that you should never judge a book (or a record) by its cover, but I don't always agree. I've come across some great music based on the cover and the release date.
A little research on the net has helped me gather the following information on the band:
- Members: Wayne Kennedy & David Rome
- Red Movies Survival (SUR B1)/Canyon
A1. Red Movie
A2. Erase the Memory
A3. Deeper than Blue
A4. This little Girl
B1. Chasing the Sun
B2. You don't look the same
B3. In my Mind
- Red Movies Survival (SUR B1)/Canyon
- Chasing The Sun  7" Single; Survival (SUR 7 008)
- Chasing The Sun c/w This Little Girl, Deeper Than Blue  12" Single; Survial (SUR 12 008)
- You Don't Look The Same c/w Erasue The Memory / You Don't Look The Same (De-Mix)  7" Single; Survival (SUR 7 015)
- You Don't Look The Same c/w Erasue The Memory  12" Single; Survival (SUR 12 015)
- In My Mind c/w Red Movies / In My Mind (Remix)  12" Single; Survival (SUR 12 022)
Does anyone else know anything about this band?
I recommend it for fans of early eighties electronic, new romantic music!
Erase the Memory
Deeper Than Blue
This Little Girl
Chasing the Sun
You Don't Look the Same
In My Mind
You Don't Look the Same (De-mix)
In my Mind (Remix)
You'll find a post about them on Systems of Romance here
Thursday, 14 June 2007
Have a look at the two album covers. You'd never guess they were from the same band. Here we have Maxïmo Parks first two LPs. I love the first album cover. The movement in the image is wonderful. It captures perfectly the awkward dance of their lead singer. The second cover does zero for me. Its dull, grey and boring. It says nothing about the band, their music or their lyrics. .... Anyway, the second album is really excellent and despite the poor reviews in Q and Mojo, its well worth a listen!
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
I recently came across a fan website dedicated to the band. Its worth checking out cause there's very little about this band on the Internet. You'll also find some more info here and a May 2006 interview with ex-fingerprintz and The Silencers Jimme O'Neill.
Recorded direct from vinyl with crackles included free!
(There's a problem with my filehoster but it should be sorted soon)
I just love the sight of a turntable. I don't know what it is. Some people like old radios or antique furniture. Turntables do it for me. I have four of them at home. How about this for urban art? I copied the photos from the web a while back but I can't remember where. Its a street in Germany as far as I remember.
Anyway, after about 15 years wait, I finally received the new Shakin Stevens album, Now Listen, in the post and having listened to it for a week in the car to and from work, my verdict is shay is, as ever, best at reworking old hit songs.
The best two songs on the album are songs whose original versions I don't even like, have never bought or even downloaded. Ever since I first heard Shaky singing 'This Ole House' back in '81 I've always though the same. He's really good at taking a good tune, made a hit by someone else some years earlier, and reworking it in his own unmistakeable style. On this album he continues to do this with 'Got my mind set on you' originally by the Travelling Wilburys and 'Trouble' originally a hit for Pink.
Its quite a good album, although I'm not sure why its taken so long. It does represent a progression for the artist himself, but there's nothing new or contemporary. Many of the guitar-heavy tracks sound like eighties Dire Straits (its not as bad as it sounds). It good to listen to while driving but I'm not so sure I'll still have it in the car in a month's time.
The standout track for me is:
Got my mind set on you - Shakin Stevens
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
You've read all the reviews in the music magazines and they're all really positive. It sounds just like the type of thing that you'll love. You see it reviewed on someone else's blog who has similar tastes to your own and they absolutely love it. And then you come across it in your favorite record shop. It must be good if they’ve got it here. You love the cover design. But you haven't heard any of it yet.... Oh shit, I'll buy it. It has to be excellent. I'll love it. The new discovery of the month.
And then you play it and you think ?oh, I didn't expect that'. You hate it.
Maybe the next song will be better. It's not.
Maybe its a slow burner, a slow grower. I should play it a few times. The better albums are always the 'growers' not the instantly catchy.
I still don't like it.
The lyrics sound weak. Maybe I don't understand them.
Maybe if I put it on in the background while I work. A few more listens and I'll love it.
I don't like it. Can I have my money back please?
Case in point. Patrick Wolf - Wind in the Wires.
I've had a subscription to Q since June 1998, with Word since September 2006 and with Mojo since March of this year. I didn't discover Word until last year because it’s not distributed around here. I've purchased Mojo on and off for a few years but only when I like the month's contents. I purchased the Mojo subscription because they had a really good deal (12 issues, 3 Beatles special issues + Beatles DVD for 39 sterling. I would have spent more on buying a few individual issues during the year so I went for the subscription - only to find that the 3 Beatles special issues had been combined into a book which I had been given as a present for Christmas, aaaaargh!).
I'm not a great fan of Mojo because I'm simply not of the target market they are aiming at, i.e. music fans born before 1960, mostly into 60s and 70s. Mojo is for the big brothers or parents of Q readers.
Although I've bought Q for nearly 10 years without missing an issue, it often fails to deliver. I'm so sick and tired of their lists. This month its 'The 10 Most Insane Albums Ever'. They're really scraping the end of the barrel. In the last few months we've had:
The 100 greatest singers and their 1000 greatest songs
100 ways to get music free (very lame)
The 500 greatest lost tracks
The 100 Greatest songs
115 records its okay to love
50 Anthems for summer
20 Greatest live albums
50 worst albums ever
Mojo also does these silly lists. This month its '100 records that changed the world'. A few months back we got '50 albums that launched a quiet riot'. Oh come on. Both Mojo and Q are produced by the same company and the similarities are obvious.
I should point out that Mojo's monthly list of recommended music retailers is badly out of date. I check out all the web sites on the list and about 70% of them don't exist anymore (if they ever did).
Q has a star rating system for its album reviews. I like the fact that I can get a quick idea of a wide range of new stuff (and then look for more in-depth reviews of those releases that interest me more from another source) but recently they've gone a bit mad and are handing out stars all over the place (awarding both Razorlight and Muse the maximum 5 star classic album rating in the same month!).
I'm not too gone on Q's interviews either. They tend to get privileged access to many of the musicians they interview (often meeting on a number occasions for the one interview) but the analysis rarely goes very deep and they often fail to ask the important questions, instead often relying on how the interviewer interprets the interviewee's body language.
Q is very much a music magazine for the 90s music fan, who thinks the 80's were shite for music, and who wants to keep up with what's going on at the moment, but knows that no one will match heyday Oasis and/or Radiohead.
But still I'll continue my subscription and I look forward to having a read of Q while sitting on the bog or waiting at the dentists.
Although I've only read Word since last September (although I've ordered a few back issues since then) I'm really impressed. Its free cover CDs are well worth listening to every month. Its got a small business/cottage industry feeling to it. You can imagine there being only about 6 of them putting the magazine together in a small dusty office, with large stereo system and reliable coffee machine and all 6 of them going mental to finish it on time every month.
The don't have a star-rating system for their album reviews. This took a while to get used to as I was used to Q's quick and to the point star-system (also used by Mojo and Uncut magazine). Word often reviews 2 or 3 albums together in the same review and finds the common link between them. Their reviews are never predictable and seldom biased. Their interviews are interesting and varied.
The only thing that bugs me about Word is the lack of a spell-checker. They need to employ someone with an eye for detail to read the whole magazine and fix any spellings and delete any extra words (and, or, even, an, etc) before going to press. It’s a small thing but it interrupts the flow of what otherwise is a great music magazine.(By the way I don’t have an eye for detail and so excuse the typos). In fact, for once I agree with the slogan 'More than a music magazine'. Word also reports on non-music topics and generally tends to identity the type of non-music subjects that music magazine readers will want to know about.
So, so far, it has to be Word, but I won't be canceling my Q subscription for the meantime, its still a good second best. On an interesting note, the main players in Word magazine (David Hpeworth and Mark Ellen - I remember wtaching them on the Whistle Test in the 80's) were the very individuals who set up and launched Q and Mojo. And their reviews editor (Paul Du Noyer) is also a former editr of Q and Mojo. So there.
By the way, as for NME, I'd buy it to fill the time before getting on a train or plane but I usually end up reading less than half the content.